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» New research quantifies the economic benefits of urban trees


“Every tree in urban Tennessee provides an estimated $2.25 worth of measurable economic benefits every year. Might not seem like a lot, but with 284 million urban trees in the state, the payoff’s pretty big.

Through energy savings, air and water filtering and carbon storage, the urban trees of Tennessee account for more than $638 million in benefits, according to a report [PDF] conducted by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and released earlier this year.”

theatlantic, 09.04.12.

Knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.

Andreas Schleicher

Pass the Books. Hold the Oil. nytimes, 10.03.12.

» "Take the subway."

True, Moscow’s gridlock was not as bad as the August 2010 traffic jam on the main north-south highway from Beijing to Inner Mongolia. Said to be the longest in the history of the planet, that baby stretched 60 miles, moved at a speed of 2 miles per day, took 10 days to unsnarl and spawned its own local economy of noodle sellers.

The planet is getting flatter and more crowded. There will be two billion more people here by 2050, and they will all want to live and drive just like us. And when they do, there is going to be one monster traffic jam and pollution cloud, unless we learn how to get more mobility, lighting, heating and cooling from less energy and with less waste — with so many more people. We can’t let the climate wars continue to derail efforts to have an energy policy that puts in place rising efficiency standards, for buildings, windows, traffic, housing, packaging and appliances, that will drive innovation — which is our strength — in what has to be the next great global industry: energy and resource efficiency.

“We are going to go from green versus gold to green equals gold,” says Moody. Because the only way to grow without consuming more resources is through systemic breakthroughs in efficiency — developing new business models to deliver mobility, heating, cooling and lighting with dramatically fewer resources and pollution.

Here is a simple example that the energy expert Hal Harvey uses: “Consider a standard incandescent light bulb, powered by a coal-fired power plant.  If the coal plant is 33 percent efficient (the average in the U.S.), and the light bulb is 3 percent efficient, then the net conversion of energy to light is just 1 percent.  That is pathetic — and typical. An L.E.D. light, powered by an efficient natural gas turbine, converts 20 percent of the total energy to light— a 20-fold increase.”  Run it on renewables and it’s carbon-free to boot.

nytimes, 03.03.12.

» Human civilisation 'will collapse' unless greed culture is stopped, report warns

The think tank found that over the past decade consumption of goods and services had risen by 28 per cent to $30.5 trillion (£19bn) - with the world digging up the equivalent of 112 Empire State Buildings of material every day.

The average American consumes more than his or her weight in products each day, many US two year-olds can recognise the McDonald’s “Golden Archers” sign, although they cannot read the letter, and an average western family spends more on their pet than by someone trying to live in Bangladesh.

A cultural shift from consumption to valuing sustainable living was needed because government targets and new technology were not enough to rescue humanity from ecological and social threats…

Consumerism it said had “taken root in culture upon culture over the past half-century … (and) become a powerful driver of the inexorable increase in demand for resources and production of waste that marks our age”.

Erik Assadourian, the institute’s project director, said it was “no longer enough to change our light bulbs, we must change our very cultures”.

At current consumption rates, 200 square metres of solar panels a second and 24 wind turbines every hour were needed to be built to satisfy energy levels.

telegraph, 13.01.10.

always gotta have studies to confirm the evident. well, maybe not so evident to some people.

» 5 Amazing Places in the US in Danger of Being Destroyed by Dirty Energy


Nice little article that ends with what I dream every environmental writer would do, answer the question: “What do we do now?”

alternet, 08.02.12.

keystone xl press conference, nebraska.

(Source: anticapitalist)

» Report: Outside Lands Generates More Than $67 Million for Local Economy

A new report released this morning shows that Outside Lands generates more than $67 million for the local economy (about $60 million of that going to SF alone). The report, authored by San Francisco State University, also shows that the music festival created 756 jobs. The annual music and arts festival is put on by Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly Presents.

download the full report here (PDF).
eastbayexpress, 09.02.12.

why haven’t I been to Outside Lands yet

I guess I’ll make my-month-back-in-the-Bay august.
the plan

» U.S. overbuilt in big houses, planners find

40 million houses too many — one explanation for falling prices

America has too many big houses — 40 million, to be exact — because consumers are shifting preferences to condos, apartments and small homes, experts told the New Partners for Smart GrowthThursday, holding its 11th annual conference in San Diego through Sunday..

Factors [for why preferences are changing] include a desire for shorter commutes, walkable neighborhoods, economic considerations and, in the case of Generations X and Y, born between 1965 and 2000, they want the non-car mobility they did not get as youngsters.

"Having the freedom not to be tied down to a vehicle all the time is a big plus to that generation," Molinaro said.

sd u-t, 02.02.12.

yay, san diego gets the news, finally.

That Smart Growth conference looked interesting..but the first draft of my thesis is due on tues., so no go.

suburbs of LA

I remember when I sent a google maps link to UTC (the area around UCSD) to a swedish friend, he told me he had never seen this type of layout before.

yeah.. retarded subdivisions.

» Economic impact of high-speed rail varies in Spain

Valciente and Martin, who are in their 70s, tend to orange and other fruit trees and corn on their 6 1/2-acre farm. Chickens roam uncaged, pecking at the dirt around the pomegranate trees, pepper plants and cacti in the yard.

The AVE trains speed by the small farmstead several times an hour, “and it hasn’t affected us at all,” Valciente said.

"We don’t even feel them," added Martin. Even though their house is close to the tracks, she said, the trains create no wind turbulence and are less bothersome than slower-moving regional commuter trains because noise from the AVE trains passes so quickly…

That experience stands in contrast to the loud and growing objections to California’s plans by some farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, where faith in the state rail authority and the economy are in short supply. Growers and ranchers say they fear losing farmland and even their homes to the tracks, they worry that tracks across their land will keep them from moving easily across their fields, and they doubt they’ll be fairly compensated for their property or troubles.

sfgate, 22.01.12.
and then washington post’s opinion that california shouldn’t be saddled with more costly projects: California’s high-speed rail to nowhere, 09.01.12.

» Solar Grid Parity 101 — and why you should care

Solar grid parity is considered the tipping point for solar power, when installing solar power will cost less than buying electricity from the grid. It’s also a tipping point for the electricity system, when millions of Americans can choose energy production and self-reliance over dependence on their electric utility.

But this simple concept conceals a great deal of complexity. And given the stakes of solar grid parity, it’s worth exploring the details.

read more:, 15.01.2012.

energy economics! complicated.

but good to have this all explained,
and even better to know that we’re reaching parity. 
(and that we may soon have access to affordable sustainable energy for our own homes.)

» Bay Area transportation projects to be judged on benefits vs. costs

"Talk to any business person about not having a benefits-vs.-cost discussion and they’ll say, ‘Duh, you mean you don’t do that?’ " said the commission’s executive director, Steve Heminger. "They insist on it, but in the transportation profession it is not all that common. … This levels the playing field."

BART's plan to run express trains and more frequent trains is the highest rated project, with a $60 to $1 benefit/cost ratio.

Next is a project many may have never heard about — Treasure Island congestion pricing, at $59 in benefits per $1 in costs.

read more: mercurynews, 21.11.11.

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